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A Report on the Internally Displaced People

A Report on the Internally Displaced People

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Violation Documentation Center in Syria

Preface Among all the miseries Syrians are going through, being internally displaced might be the worst. Unlike those who fled to Syria’s neighboring countries, the internally displaced people are in daily danger of death because those fleeing to rural areas from towns and cities are often no safer there the regime forces continuously target the area around Aleppo with barrel bombs, for instance. Whatever the cause of displacement, citizens who flee their country are “legally” supposed to be under the protection of their government, even if this government was the cause of their displacement; they should have all the rights due to national citizens including the right to protection, according to Human Rights Laws and the International Human Law. Internally displaced people aren’t specifically included in the mandate of the United Nations High Commission For Refugees (UNHCR) yet it does, in view of its experience with refugees, provide shelter for millions of internally displaced people and supervise their basic needs. Internally displaced people are high on the agenda of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which clearly distinguishes between refugees and internally displaced people, the latter being defined as people who have fled their homes for some reason but not crossed internationally recognized state borders. International Humanitarian Law provides for protecting civilians during their displacement, provided they do not participate directly in the hostilities. It also provides for the access of humanitarian relief and assistance organizations to the internally displaced people, requiring the “parties” of the conflict to ensure relief supplies reach these people.

Summary
The outrageous human rights violations, war crimes and the crimes against humanity to which Syrian citizens are being exposed, while the killing machine of the Syrian regime forces continues claiming the lives of dozens of civilians in daily massacres, makes the tragedy of internally displaced people one of the biggest problems arising from Syria’s conflict. Confirming the scary indications of many international reports, the UNHRC estimated more than 4.25 million people to have been internally

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displaced by the end of 2013. This number did not include the subsequent massive displacement of more than 600,000 people from Aleppo, mainly people from the eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo where several deliberate air strikes by the regime using explosive barrels killed and wounded thousands - see the latest report issued by VDC in Syria. The displacement movement has increased, particularly from mid-December 2013 until late January and early February 2014 with the area around Aleppo, particularly Bab al-Salama, Mare’e and other places, becoming overcrowded with hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

Methodology
This report has been drawn from many interviews and meetings with a variety of sources, the most important of which were the local councils, the organizers of the refugee camps and volunteers, as well as interviewees such as displaced families, field activists and journalists. VDC has additionally viewed reports from the city of Aleppo into the situation of the displaced, which the reporting team analyzed carefully to maximize the accuracy of displacement statistics in the report. However, the report’s statistics exclude the last mass exodus from the city of Aleppo, particularly from its eastern neighborhoods – it covers displacement only until the end of December 2013, after which Aleppo witnessed huge displacement.

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Introduction

Violation Documentation Center in Syria

The countryside around Aleppo, due to its proximity to the Turkish-Syrian borders and the “relative calmness” in some of its towns and villages, was a destination for masses of displaced people. It particularly drew people from the governorates that witnessed early military operations – governorates such as Homs, the countryside of Hama, and the city and the countryside of Aleppo itself. The refugee camps were located mostly in the northern and eastern surrounds of Aleppo. Despite a lack of comprehensive numbers, VDC has striven to be as accurate as possible with its numbers in this report, which are likely to increase in actuality and potentiality as time goes on.

Gathering Points of the Displaced People in the Surrounds of Aleppo
PART 1: Displaced peoples in areas to the east of Aleppo:

1-Menbej City:
The survey carried out by VDC in Syria, relying on many of the aforementioned sources, showed that the number of displaced people in the city of Menbej is about 220,000, more than 60% of whom are women and children. Meanwhile the number of displaced people in the countryside around Menbej is about 100,000, roughly 60% of whom are women and children. There are four camps (excluding other gathering points), one of which inside Menbej City has been built in a park in al-Sarb neighborhood. This camp has about 15 families including more than 18 children. As for the rest, they inhabit houses and public facilities in the city. There are three main camps in the countryside around Menjeb: A-al-Asadya Village Camp: it has more than 50 families including more than 30 children. B-Ein al-Nakhil Village Camp: it has more than 100 families including more than 54 children. C-Haj Abdeen Village Camp: it has more than 250 families including 120 children.

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Families in these camps included on average six members including the parents, at the time of the survey. All the displaced peoples’ camps and gathering points in the city of Menbej, especially those in the surrounding countryside, depend on relief supplies provided to them by various parties. These supplies are insufficient due to the sheer volume of displaced people. Thus many of the displaced people in Menbej city benefit from these supplies but others became street vendors to make a living. There are no medical points, clinics or hospitals in the Menbej camps. The displaced people depend on the dispensary of the Red Crescent and the National Hospital in the city, which are too short of medicine to make it available continuously. Vaccines are also in short supply. of polio has been reported to VDC in Menbej so far). The educational situation is no better for there are no schools or study rooms in these camps, the conditions of which are dire. Ihsan Hamdiya, the managing director of Ihsan Campaign, which is responsible for refugee relief in the city of Menbej described the situation there as follows: “Our team works to help all displaced people fleeing areas of armed conflict. There are quite a number of families who live in apartments and houses under construction and others who live in schools, but the majority live in tents. There are several main gathering points in the city and some of the villages - 10 displacement camps in the Menbej city and countryside combined, comprising almost 950 tents. As a result of the snow storm that has recently hit northern Syria, however, we had to move the displaced people to other places. Consequently, the number of main gathering points has become only four. As for aid supplies, these meet the needs of only 40% of the families. The supplies sometimes arrive at the Turkish-Syrian borders only to be interrupted for various reasons. Sometimes they’re lost or stolen and sometimes they’re diverted to non-distressed and hence non-needy areas, especially areas controlled by the regime. There are some volunteer doctors, but it is really difficult to provide medicine in specific cases because it is either highly expensive or unavailable. Dozens of children are making a living in some of the gathering points by selling napkins and candy. “ (However, no case

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Menbej-Aleppo, a Camp for Internally Displaced People

Menbej-Aleppo, a Camp for Internally Displaced People

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2-Jarablus City:
Jarablus city is far to the north-east of Aleppo, near the Syrian-Turkish border. More than 7200 people have been displaced to this city as well as to its countryside. Half of these displaced people are children. More than 3600 of them are from Homs and Hama, and more than 3500 are from the countryside of Aleppo itself, particularly from al-Safira city, which is under the control of the regime’s forces. There are 20 gathering points and camps for the displaced in Jarablus and its countryside. Some of the displaced live in collective housing such as schools; others live in buildings under construction. Each school or building is occupied by at least 40 families. Moreover, there are three main camps where the displaced live only in tents. These camps are: A-al-Mala’ab/Stadium Camp B- The Agricultural Bank Camp C- Death Camp* or the Fourth Camp. *Named for its proximity to one of the cemeteries, this is also one of the worst in terms of living conditions. After the recent clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS/Daash) and a number of FSA battalions, the displacement movement increased to this camp particularly. Abu Lamia, one of the displaced-people supervisors in the city of Jarablus and its countryside said to VDC: “The displaced in Jarablos depend mainly on aid supplies which cover less than 50% of their need. The health situation is very bad as well because there is a shortage of vaccines, medicines and other medical supplies, causing dozens of people - including a little girl - to die as a result. The single Red Crescent dispensary does not offer any medications other than “Cetamol” pills to critical cases only. Nine cases of polio and scabies have been observed, in addition to one case of skin cancer for a 45 years old man, one case of lost sight, and about 500 cases of diabetic patients in need of insulin. As for maternity cases, they are being transferred to the hospital in Menbej city. Four displaced people died as a result of the cold weather. With regard to the educational situation, all the children are deprived of learning and studying because of the lack of schools and colleges.”

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Another witness from Hama, who has been displaced with his family to Jarablus city added: “There are more than 4,500 displaced people from Hama and Homs distributed to the main camps in Jarablus, and there are more than one hundred medical cases that require immediate treatment because of the spread diseases. Cases of polio and meningitis have been recorded. The medical, living and educational situations are very bad. No child is receiving any kind of education. Most of the people depend on the already-scarce aid supplies, and very few of them have jobs.”

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3-Maskaneh Town
This town is located near the Lake of Euphrates dam to the south-east of Aleppo. More than 2000 families have been displaced to this town, the majority of whom are from Safira city while many of the rest are from Jibreen, al-Nakarin and Hama governorate. They are all distributed on gathering points and camps in Maskaneh and its countryside, where there are more than 40 gathering points including camps, housings, schools, public places and buildings under construction. As with any other displaced, the majority of those who seek refuge in Maskaneh camps live on aid supplies that can hardly cover 50% of their needs, while only 5% of them manage to work, perhaps as vendors or porters or even hairdressers. VDC in Syria documented three cases of polio and several others of scabies. Emergency cases and natal deliveries are transferred to Deir Hafer city. During the cold wave, VDC documented the names of six children who died due to the cold weather including: Muhammad Abdullah Hanano, two years old Amina Adnan al-Ibrahim, one year old Mahmoud al-Mahmoud, 40 days old Fatima Muhammad al-Aboud, two years old Doa’a Tariq Ramadan, four months old And they are all displaced in Safira city in Aleppo.

The baby martyr Doa’a Tariq Ramadam, four months old, from Zenyan neighborhood of Safir, Aleppo

One death case of Na’ima Nader Joma’a, a displaced child from the countryside south of Hama (Aqrab), has been documented to have resulted from lack of medical care for a hole in the child’s heart.

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On 26-11-2013, the regime air force targeted al-Sekkaryieh Refugee Camp in Maskaneh (named after nearby Sekkaryieh village), claiming four lives of the displaced: 1- 2- 3- 4- Hamed Dahham al-Khalaf, 15 years, a displaced from Hweijeh- Safira. Wael Dahham al-Khalaf, 9 years, a displaced from Hweijeh- Safira. Ahmad Dahham al-Kalaf, 7years, a displaced from Hweijeh- Safira. Shahd Dahham al-Khalaf, 12 years, a displaced from Hweijeh- Safira.

Moreover, there were more than ten injuries inflicted, mostly to children. Abu Abdullah al-Safrani, who was displaced from Safira to Maskaneh town, described the state of the displaced in the town: “There are more than two thousand families displaced from al-Safira to Maskaneh town and its countryside. The camps are distributed in the surrounding villages and in the town itself. Some displaced people also live in schools and buildings under construction. In addition to the displacement they have already suffered, they are often attacked all over again by the regime forces; one of the camps has been targeted twice in a row by the regime’s air force. Moreover, many diseases, such as skin diseases, spread among the displaced people and many of them die due to cold weather. Aid supplies are really scarce and there are no dispensaries so the health situation is really bad, although there are some volunteer doctors”

4-Deir Hafer Town
There are more than 50,000 displaced people in this town. They have come from various areas and governorates, but the majority of them have been displaced from around al-Safira city - especially from the towns of Rasm al-Nafal, al-Malkia and al-Mazra’a towns – while others have fled from Homs and Hama. They are all distributed around various camps in the town of Deir Hafer and its surrounding areas such as: al-Alat, al-zakia and al-Ta’ous. Most of Deir Hafer’s displaced people live in tents, each of which has four to five families who live on aid supplies which - according to some of them - are too scarce to cover more than 30% of their need. Others could find jobs like selling fuel, which is a very dangerous profession because the fuel distribution centers are usually targeted by the regime forces. Hasan al-Khatab, a media activist and a photographer from al-Safira, described the suffering of the displaced as follows: “the people who were displaced from the villages surrounding al-Safira - especially the ones that had witnessed massacres such as Rasm al-Nafar village whose residents, estimated at 2000 people, fled their homes to Deir Hafer town - live in very deteriorated conditions with more than one family per tent. There is also no dispensary near them, and the nearest one is about 10 km away. Moreover, there is no kind of education whatsoever so all the children are being deprived of their right to learn.”

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Part 2: Displaced People in areas to north of Aleppo :

The area to the north of Aleppo has one of the largest gatherings of displaced people in Syria, especially in the north of Syria. It contains dozens of gathering points and camps which are bursting with thousands of displaced people, especially from the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo and other governorates. Moreover; there are several main camps and gathering points north of Aleppo, including:

1-Al-Salama Camp
This camp is about ten kilometers from the Turkish border crossing of Bab Alsalama. It includes more than 7,000 displaced people. Moreover, the number of displaced people following the air attacks in December against Aleppo has begun to increase very significantly, leading to yet another camp in Chamarin near Alsalama. The number of people in both camps combined has reached more than 22,000, all of whom live in tents and subsist on insufficient aid supplies. Regarding the health situation in Alsalama camp, they depend on one clinic which provides treatment for non-critical and normal cases. Natural childbirth is also operated in this clinic, and free vaccines are provided. However, if critical cases have to be transferred to Turkish hospitals or to other hospitals in the area of Aleppo. Regarding the educational situation, there are tents for children from the age of three up to the age of ten. These tents are divided into classes where no specific curriculum is taught but children are at least given some intellectual activities. However, children at school age are taught only Arabic and mathematics by the supervisors at the camp. The situation of the displaced people in Chamarin camp was found to be much worse than in Alsalama camp. It lacked a lot of services. For example, the camp floor is still red dust, and it needs a considerable amount of gravel to cover the ground. The camp also lacks the most basic necessities such as toilets, drinking water tanks and kitchens.

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Abo Zied al-Hhalabi, one of the supervisors in Alsalama camp, said to VDC: “Till early 2014, Alsalma camp included 7000 displaced people living in very badly-conditioned tents, which are especially problematic during winter when snow or rain causes the leaking tents to flood. There’s also a tent for studying where children receive their education”

A picture of a large tent that has been divided into many parts for teaching the children , Alsalama camp- Aleppo-February 2014

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Naser Abuljoud, a podiatrist at al-Salama camp, described the medical situation there as follows: “People flee death only to face it again, or at least acute humiliation. The general situation is very bad, especially from a medical point of view because many diseases spread among the people. Leishmaniasis in particular is rife, with more than a thousand cases reported. The main reason for the spread of this disease is that the sewage systems are uncovered inside the camp, which lacks the simplest services. There are deep fears that other diseases like Cholera and typhoid might also spread, as scores of people have suffered from diarrhea. Furthermore, at least ten displaced people have chronic diseases such as heart diseases and diabetes. Meanwhile we lack the ability to help them.”

A little girl with Leishmaniasis - Bab al-Salama Camp - Aleppo

One of the displaced in Chamarin camp, which was recently established several kilometers from al-Salama camp, said: “Due to the great displacement of people that followed the daily attacks by explosive barrels on Aleppo, Chamarin camp has been established. It is closer to the Turkish border than to Izaz city, and very close to Bab al-Salama border crossing. It has dozens of families living in the open space. About ten trucks came to the camp carrying rags which some people put on the floor to sit on, while others made a tent of these rags due to the shortage of proper tents. When the shelling on the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo increased, more than a hundred families arrived at the camp daily, many of whom were either sick or old people and many of whom had been injured by the attacks and often in a very bad state. Some of them were even still covered with dust caused by the shelling”.

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Part 3: Displaced people in areas to the west of Aleppo

1-al-Atarib City
Al-Atarib city contains about 5000 displaced people, most of whom are from the countryside of Hama. After the recent attacks, however, it received hundreds of those who were displaced from Aleppo. Some of them rented houses while others chose to live in the farms near the city. Most of them depend on the relief supplies, while others could get a job, like selling vegetables, to make a living. Paramedic Issa Obaid, who works in a field hospital in al-Atarib city, said: “In al-Atarib City, there about 1000 displaced families, mostly from the countryside of Hama and a few from Aleppo. Many families live in the schools and depend on aid supplies, while others were able to rent houses. Some worked in trading, food retail and currency exchanging. ‘Free vaccine campaigns’ are launched from time to time. There is also the dispensary I work in which consists of many clinics that provide medical care for free. The educational conditions are terrible; all the schools are closed due to the regime attacks, and even when the schools are open parents rarely send their children for fear of their safety. The number of displaced people increased dramatically after the recent air attacks on Aleppo. Thousands of them lived in the farms of al-Atarib and in Kafar-Naha and Orm al-Kubra.”

2- Daret Azza:
There are more than 1250 displaced families in Daret Azza, with the average family comprising 6 members. The total number of individuals is estimated to be 7500 people, mostly living in schools, poultries and farms.

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Part 4 : Displaced people in areas to the south of Aleppo

Despite the fact that most of the areas in al-Safira were attacked and emptied of their citizens, there are many camps for the displaced in the city: al-Fustok Camp, Abu Grin Camp, Subaiha Camp, al-Jabboul Camp and Tal Na’am Camp. In these camps, each of which contains more than 20 families, conditions are poor in terms of aid supplies and drinkable water; the displaced people are forced to drink irrigation water. The conditions of these camps deteriorated further after regime forces regained al-Safira. Shelling Al-Safira Camps: Before the regime forces regained control over al-Safira, it deliberately attacked the camps causing many casualties and deaths. On 9 Oct 2013, al-Jabboul Camp was attacked with a barrel bomb that killed Israa Fallaha, a six-year-old girl, and injuring many others. On 10 Oct 2013, Abu Grin Camp was targeted by a barrel bomb that killed two ladies, Suhaila al-Husain aged 18 years and Sanaa al-Hamwi al-Hamdi aged 24 years. The most violent attack was on al-Fustok Camp on 22 Oct 2013, where the death toll from yet another barrel bomb was 9 martyrs and about 40 causalities. Some of the martyrs remained ‘anonymous’ as their bodies were burnt in the attack. Al-Safira Camps Situation: Abu Abdalla al-Safrani, the Head of the Relief Office in al-Safira, stated to VDC: “Clashes and shelling forced most of the city citizens to flee to camps nearby. When the regime tried to regain Khanasir Road and the villages near it, many camps and gathering points were shelled forcing people to flee again as they were afraid that the regime forces might enter the camps and kill them. Consequently, many of them fled to the camps in Deir Hafer, al-Bab and Menbej in what can be described as a collective displacement of the displaced. In al-Safira, the camps situation is very bad for the people there had already been suffering significant financial hardships, and it is difficult for the volunteer doctors to reach the camps because of the sieges repeatedly imposed on the city by the regime forces. Moreover, there is an acute shortage of medicines, and there is almost a complete absence of education in these camps, except for a small tent in Abu Grin Camp where the organizers give Arabic lessons to children at the school age.”

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Abu Shadi al-Safrani, an organizer in al-Safira camp, stated the following to VDC: “Camps in al-Safira suffer difficult humanitarian conditions. Only undrinkable water is available to the inhabitants and the food consists mainly of infrequent and irregular aid supplies. Some trucks brought milk for children but that stopped. As for health, there is only one clinic for all the displaced and it does not contain many of the essential medicines. The serious cases have to be transferred to Talaran field hospital. “
End of Testimony

Bab al-Salama Camp

Conclusion and Recommendations
In this report that covers a time period up till December 2013, VDC in Syria calls for all international organizations concerned with the refugees and displaced affairs, led by the UNHCR, to shoulder responsibility and take immediate actions to improve the poor living conditions of the displaced. It also appeals to Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, to stop the situation of the displaced worsening, particularly after the recent displacement movement from Aleppo.

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For any questions and comments: editor@vdc-sy.org to view our previous reports: http://www.vdc-sy.info/index.php/ar/reports

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